How Audi hopes to keep Google at bay

December 05, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
In an interview with daily paper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Audi CEO Rupert Stadler described the carmaker's strategy for the connected car and for autonomous driving - and why the OEM is not afraid of the Googles and Teslas of this world. Read excerpts of this interview.

In the interview, Stadler claimed the leadership in autonomous driving. The company's robot cars already conduct driverless test drives at very high speeds of up to 240 kmph (149 mph); by 2017 Audi plans to offer some sort of automated driving as an option, Stadler said. With regards to the potentially emerging competition from Google who demonstrated an autonomous car earlier this year, Stadler said that he is not afraid at all of Google's activities. "The car is one of the most complex consumer goods", he said. "We have the expertise and know what makes a car sexy".

Interviewer: But the IT for the connected car comes from companies like Google which whom Audi collaborates. Who after all makes today the decisions on the large topics - Silicon Valley or Ingolstadt (where Audi is headquartered)?

Stadler: The authority over the operating systems in the vehicle is solely with the OEM, and this will remain so in the future. Trends are created everywhere in the world, not only in the Silicon Valley or in Ingolstadt. ... That's why we have developers not only in Ingolstadt, but also in China and the USA.

Upon the argument that car users might be concerned over privacy issues as a result of Google collecting data within the car and about the driver's habits, Standler appeased. "The purpose of our collaboration with Google is not only understanding the data communications possibilities but also because we want to establish a joint business basis centred around the question, which data we will collect and weather it is necessary to store or to process them". He added that the customer will have the command over his data. "If he does not want something, in an Audi he can deactivate it".

Confronted with the lag of the German automotive industry in the field of electromobility, Stadler countered, "In terms of electromobility, perhaps the first page has already been written, but